Ruth Moody (Wailin’ Jennys & Cornshed Sisters) at Cluny Newcastle
Ruth Moody & The Cornshed Sisters
Cluny II Newcastle Friday 27th January 2012
by Alan Harrison
To the uninitiated the four Cornshed Sisters look like four Primary School teachers on a night out, but as soon as they began singing we immediately knew that we were witnessing something very special. All four girls (?) individually have beautiful voices and when they seamlessly slide into their immaculate four part harmonies the sound is quite magnificent and transcends folk music as I know it.
Piano and ukulele accompanied the bittersweet ballad Dance at My Wedding which is already picking up plays on BBC R6; and the Sisters went on to delight the hometown crowd with a 40 minute set that was laced with echoes of Cowboy Junkies and Fleet Foxes but there was even a choral feel to songs like the beautifully brittle Soft Light; which just goes show that if they would only perform more often the Cornshed Sisters have the talent to headline much bigger venues than Cluny II.
When Ruth Moody and her band began their set with By Way of Song the air of excitement in the packed venue was vindicated as the pretty young singer from Winnipeg stole the hearts of one and all with her stories and marvellous songs.
Ruth looked like she was thoroughly enjoying herself as she painted magnificent pictures with words, predominantly about her native Canada and its landscapes which she so obviously misses when on tour.
Her regular band, the Wailin’ Jennys err towards the Bluegrass end of Country music but tonight’s solo songs seemed to have a Celtic backbone to them as Ruth took lo-fi to a new high as her voice blended as one with Adam Dobres’ subtle but awe-inspiring guitar and Adrian Dolan’s amazing mandolin and fiddle playing on songs like Winter Waltz and Nest.
Two songs stood out like diamonds in the dust; Travelling Shoes which was written after discovering the legend that is Townes Van Zandt and the encore We Can Only Listen which left quite a few people misty eyed.
As we left the Cluny I couldn’t help feeling that the pairing of the Cornshed Sisters and Ruth Moody had been the perfect antidote to a cold and miserable Winters evening.